One of the pleasures in life is re-reading a book which you last read years ago. I have just had an opportunity to re-read "The Abduction Enigma: The truth behind the mass alien abductions of the late twentieth century." Authored by Kevin D Randle; Russ Estes, and William P Cone. Published in 1999 by Forge. New York. ISBN 0-312-87270-4.
Dr William P Cone is a psychologist who had some unusual childhood dreams; recurrent childhood nosebleeds, and a paralysis event. On coming across Whitley Strieber's book "Communion" he questioned whether or not he might be an abductee? Later, he went on to work in the area of satanic ritual abuse and multiple personality disorders. Between 1988 and 1998 he studied the abduction phenomenon.
Russ Estes had some paranormal experiences, including a near-death experience which led him to documentary film making and recording the stories of abductees. (For more on Estes click here.)
Kevin D Randle is a UAP researcher, with a string of books on this topic to his credit, who believes that we have been visited. (For more on Randle click here.)
The authors start by reviewing the history of abduction claims, reaching back to the 1896 airship wave; through the 1957 Villas-Boas case (click here) , to Betty and Barney Hill's 1961 event (click here,) and the 1973 abduction wave in the USA. One interesting insight they noted was:
" UFO researchers tended to accept these tales because of the use of hypnosis. Researchers also noticed the emotions displayed by the victims under hypnosis. To many, they underscored the validity of the memories and the research being conducted." (p.43.)
One chapter of the book explores the role that folklore may have played. "For those who accept the idea that alien abductions are real, there is a major stumbling block. Similar tales of abduction, though not of alien, meaning extra-terrestrial, abductions, exist throughout all of human history." (p.105.) "Abduction tales, do not conform to the folklore tradition. However, alien abductions do mimic much of the traditional folklore. This cannot be denied." (p.115.) (Click here for more on this topic.)
A later chapter examines whether or not "...these tales of alien abduction are influenced by our pop culture including science fiction books and movies...?" (p.116.) Their answer is that " Pop culture from the beginning of the twentieth century is filled with examples of alien beings and alien spacecraft that match, to an astonishing degree, the beings and craft being reported today by the abductees." (p.119.) (More here.)
A third mechanism or element of the creation of an abduction scenarios is to be found, according to the authors, in dreams. They discuss dreams recollected by Betty Hill; Jim Weiner (the Allagash abduction); Leah Haley; Karla Turner and others. The authors note "There are those who remember their abduction without the use of hypnosis, but many of those "conscious" memories first surfaced as dreams. These witnesses are later convinced that the dreams are real and not fantasy..." (p.142.)
The lengthy part three of the book looks at a number of US abduction researchers including Dr Richard Boylan (click here); John Carpenter (click here) ; Dr James Harder (click here) ; Budd Hopkins (click here) ; David Jacobs (click here); and Dr John Mack (click here). It examines their methodologies and beliefs.
The authors state that researchers in general:
* "...prime them with books and magazine articles on abduction." (p.62 re Boylan.)
* "...the consequences for some of his subjects is extreme. The damage to Leah Haley's life can't be underestimated." (p.177 re Carpenter.)
* "This case reveals how easily a subject who wishes to learn about a "forgotten" experience can be subtly led." (p191 re Harder.)
* "What this demonstrates for us is that Hopkins, like so many other investigators, leads the witness to the point he wishes to reach." (p.266 re Hopkins.)
* "Jacobs believes that you must be a good hypnotist, and if you are then you can get accurate information. He has again stumbled on a truth about the whole of the abduction phenomenon but he doesn't understand the overall ramifications of it." (p.273 re Jacobs.)
* "Mack should know that emotion in telling a story is not an indication of the truth, or a validation of the tale..." (p.274 re Mack.)
"There is another psychological phenomenon closely linked to that of alien abduction...And just like alien abduction, the existence of it is predicated on, almost exclusively, testimony that has been recovered through hypnotic regression, visualisation and other memory enhancement techniques. And like an alien abduction there is virtually no physical or corroborative evidence that the phenomenon exists at all." (p.265.)
The topic, the subject of chapter 18, is "Satanic Ritual Abuse." There have been hundreds of individuals who have claimed to have suffered abuse at the hands of other individuals, in a satanic setting.
What do the authors conclude, after examining details of these claims. "And it all relates to the tales of alien abduction because we can see the same thing when we study these cases. These are troubled people who find their way to a therapist. Using what he or she believes to be standard techniques, the therapist or abduction researcher, attempts to fill in blocks of missing time. Over a number of sessions, a picture begins to emerge that suggests to the researcher that an abduction has taken place." (p.284.)
The authors then discuss the nature of human memory. They point out that memory for most of us is "...patchy and episodic." (p.287.)
It is possible to confabulate. Memory is inaccurate. "...people with a poor sense of self repeatedly report that they cannot remember their childhoods. " (p.290.) Memories of false events can be implanted by researchers.
An exploration of the topic of sleep paralysis and associated hypnagogic and hypnopompic imagery leads the authors to state "...that 50 per cent of UFO abduction reports are the result of sleep paralysis." (p. 299.)
Scars, implants and missing fetuses have been put forward by abduction researchers as evidence that alien abductions are a reality. However, after reviewing the evidence, the authors find nothing of value in the lines of evidence put forward.
The authors review what we know of hypnosis and its value in retrieving abduction memories. They conclude that "Clearly, regression hypnosis is a poor tool for recovering memory, and yet, abduction researchers swear by it." (.357.) They note that the American Psychiatric Association and the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis issued a formal statement that hypnosis should not be used to enhance recall" (p.336) and "In the UK in October 1997 the Royal College of Psychiatrists issued a ban on using recovered memories in cases of child abuse." (p.332.)
After reviewing all aspects of abduction research, what did the authors conclude?
* The belief of abduction research that the emotions of abductees is very real, hence the event is real, is incorrect. "There is, of course, no clinical or experimental evidence that such a claim, that is, the "realness" of the emotion, means anything relevant to this study." (p.345.)
* The statement by some abduction researchers that no one would make up such a story, is wrong "You only have to watch a few of the daytime television talk shows to realize that people would, in fact, subject themselves to ridicule and embarrassment just for the opportunity to be on national TV." (p.345.)
* The statement by researchers that there is a high degrees of internal consistency in abduction accounts, results from the sharing of this level of detail by abduction researchers themselves. "The key to understanding how so many abductees can tell stories that are so consistent when they have never met each other is because of those who conduct the research." (p.348.)
* On the origins of abduction accounts. "What we have learnt is that sleep paralysis, which is not a psychiatric illness, can account for a large number of the tales of alien abduction." (p.350.)
* Many of those who later describe abduction events remember those events with no hypnosis. They are, however exposed to researchers who believe that abductions are real. "...the investigative environment is conducive to the creation of "memories" rather than the retrieval of memory." (p.351.)
* "Many of the conscious memories of abduction come from dreams...These are not conscious memories of events but dreams that have been translated into conscious memories with a belief that they somehow reflect reality." (p.352.)
* "Human culture and folklore are filled with such tales." (p.352.)
* "Here's exactly where the evidence, all the evidence takes us. A Large number of abduction cases can be explained as sleep paralysis...some of the cases of alien abduction are the result of poor investigative techniques by the abduction researchers themselves...Hypnosis...is a poor tool for investigating abduction...The researchers contribute to the similarity of tales." (pp360-361.)
The Australian scene:
I must admit that it has been several years now since I have personally interviewed an Australian abduction experiencer. However, between the mid 1980's and 2000 I interviewed dozens of such individuals; published a couple of dozen articles in various UAP journals and newsletters, and ran an Australian Centre for abduction research. It has not been for want of trying over the last few years. Alien abductions appear to have gone away in this country. I have spoken to colleagues here, and they tell me that they still occasionally are contacted by someone with the classic abduction experience, however this is a rare thing.
Why is this a rare event? In the 1980's and 1990's dozens of experiencers came forward, either on their own accord, or in response to calls made by Australian researchers. I have spent endless hours in dialogue with such individuals listening to their stories. There was hearty debate, among Australian UAP researchers, about the nature of such experiences.
The number of such individuals coming forward decreased around 2000 and by 2013 it is down to a very low number per year.
So, why is it so? Perhaps the aliens have gone away - their task completed. Perhaps the social setting has changed and society as a whole has no need to sustain a myth about alien interaction? The main scientific reaction to such claims has been to declare them to originate in sleep paralysis episodes and associated hallucinatory states. However, people haven't stopped sleeping since 2000, and there is no reason to believe that the incidence of sleep paralysis has changed since then, so why would people stop reporting abductions if they were simply episodes of sleep paralysis?
The short answer, is that we don't know why claims of abductions have decreased in recent times.
To read my Australian abduction catalogue click here.
Over to blog readers for your thoughts and comments.